TLDR: To rank higher in local SEO, make sure your business name, address, and phone number (also known as the NAP) are always formatted consistently on your website and any other websites that carry your contact info, such as your social pages, Google My Business listing, and online directories.
Like a car or a coy pond, your website search engine optimization (SEO) is a something that needs ongoing maintenance and tender loving care. By most accounts, Google assesses well over 200 factors when ranking your website in searches, and updates and tweaks are being added to the Google search algorithm all the time. Deciding to tackle the whole list at once would be more than overwhelming, so instead of playing that extra round of Candy Crush before lunch, take a few minutes to optimize your website, one tweak at a time.
Here’s a good place to start: make sure your citations are in order. Citations are occurrences of your business name, address, and phone number on your site and other websites. In ranking your business on local searches, Google looks for consistency in the formatting of these elements. Basically, they want to make sure that all occurrences of your contact info are up-to-date and correct, so the easiest way to do that is to run a comparative analysis. Theoretically, the more consistent your citations are across websites, the more current your information is, and, therefore, the more credible you are, and the higher you will score in raking. Ta da!
Here are some best practices to work with when optimizing your citations:
- Always use the same abbreviations and formatting (i.e. 123 Place Ave, is not the same as 123 Place Avenue, or 123 Place Ave.) when you list your contact info.
- Once you pick a format, stick with it.
- Start by making sure all of the instances of your NAP are consistent on your website, and that the website format is consistent with your Google Map Business (GMB) listing (this is super important!).
- Update your citations on all of the directory listings and social pages that you can think of off the top of your head (Yellow pages, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).
- Next, do Google searches for all of the different formats that you may have used (i.e. 123 Place Ave, 123 Place Avenue, 123 Place Ave., etc.). This should give you a good idea of all the other places you need to update your citations.
- Every time you add a citation to the new site or directory or edit a current instance, make sure you use your standard format.
- For bonus points, as you are updating your citations and added new instances, keep a record of all the URLs that have your citations. This will make them easier to find if you change your business address or phone number.
So, that’s it. Depending on how many citations you have out there, it may be a big or small task to clean them up, but start at the top of the list and work your way down. And once you have your existing citations in order, you can start looking for new places to add them, because the more citations you have out there, the better.
Rob Parker is a data-driven marketing, design and user experience executive consultant with over 20 years experience. He helps small, medium and enterprise-level businesses gain value and customers by developing solid online and offline marketing and user experience strategies and techniques. He is a unique mix of marketing strategist, UX architect, designer, data analyst, writer, usability expert and perceiver of consumer habits and psychology. Rob combines user and market research with data analysis and his experience as a designer and content writer to make recommendations to increase your rankings on web searches and attract customers (SEO), as well as how to increase conversions on your website (CRO).